Trump Should Have Chosen Romney
by John Albright on Friday, January 13th, 2017
On Tuesday, December 13th, 2016, President-Elect Donald Trump nominated Rex Tillerson, the Chief Executive Officer of transnational ExxonMobil, to act as his Secretary of State. Other than Tillerson, Trump had also considered the 2012 Republican candidate Mitt Romney, former mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani, former House Speaker and Congressman Newt Gingrich, and South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, who has since been nominated as Ambassador to the UN, for the position.
Trump’s decision, frankly, was catastrophic. Tillerson is an unpredictable, business-allegiant candidate whose position as an oil executive and sociability with Russia have raised questions about his qualifications, transparency, and potential priorities as Secretary of State. Furthermore, Tillerson’s nomination is wildly detrimental to the Republican Establishment – a party that, since November 9th, has increasingly been overlooked. His background and the influence his oil ties could majorly and detrimentally influence America’s foreign policy.
On account of his working at ExxonMobil since 1975, it is safe to assume that his occupation has harbored a worldview centered around the exploitation of oil resources. Through Exxon, Tillerson has built enduring oil partnerships with Russia and China. Thus, it is ludicrous to assume that Tillerson, even with his new position, will completely sever oil ties with those countries.
But the biggest problem with Tillerson’s incumbency? The line between the interests of ExxonMobil and the United States of America will be inevitably blurred, cultivating a diplomatic ideology that conflict two of Tillerson’s biggest obligations: his obligation to Exxon and his obligation to the United States of America.
Furthermore, what about the other myriad of world issues that the Secretary of State must address? With no experience in foreign policy other than through Exxon, what sort of apprehension will Tillerson have of Israeli politics? The refugee crisis? The Iran deal and the restoration of sanctions? According to a December 2016 article from The Washington Post, Tillerson will be the first Secretary of State to have no experience in the public sector. Is this who we want as America’s representative figure of foreign policy?
Conversely, former governor of Massachusetts and 2012 Republican candidate Mitt Romney brings many things to the table – qualities that would have centered the Trump cabinet by appeasing the Republican Establishment. Since he ran for president in 2012, Mitt Romney, a moderate conservative, has been the sacred son of the Republican Establishment. Even after Romney lost in 2012 – largely on account of his inability to win over the white working class – the Establishment has expressed a continued desire for Romney’s presence in Washington. In fact, Paul Ryan, the unofficial leader of the Republican Establishment, said that he would “love” to see Mitt Romney as Secretary of State.
In Donald Trump’s campaign, we saw temperament play a significant role in repelling potential voters. We saw unparalleled anger and animosity in each debate and speech. We saw a reinvigoration of the alt-right party. While Trump was and continues to be volatile and unpredictable, Romney is a stable, poised, and pragmatic Republican that could heavily guide Trump’s foreign policy and redirect the path of a reckless administration.
In the last debate of the 2012 presidential election, it was Romney who recognized Russia as our most formidable geopolitical enemy. Romney’s understanding of complex global relationships holds the sort of caution and pragmatism we need in an administration that has expressed deep admiration for Putin.
Moreover, Trump and Romney would agree, for the most part, on China. Romney has tried, in the past, to label China a “currency manipulator,” which is effectively consistent with Trump’s initiative to create incentives for businesses to invest more in American jobs. In this sense, Romney, in both balancing Trump’s Russian policy with pragmatism and holding a similar view to Trump on Chinese diplomacy, would have complemented the president-elect’s foreign policy extremely well.
In addition to his proficiency in foreign policy and his ability to appease the Republican Establishment, Romney offers something that is direly necessary to Trump’s administration: a better political trajectory for the Trump cabinet. His cabinet is plagued by inexperience and incompetence: two characteristics that could endanger future policy-making and foreign relationships. Romney offers both experience and expertise – credentials that are absolutely necessary for the position of Secretary of State, credentials that Rex Tillerson, while being a rich oil mogul, certainly lacks.
If Mitt Romney has a stronger ideological rudder and offers more for the cabinet’s political trajectory, then shouldn’t have Trump’s decision been a no-brainer?
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